A wide discrepancy now exists between an ossified Islamic orthodoxy and the changing context of Muslims’ lived reality. This includes questions of the rights, responsibilities, and role of non-Muslims living in Muslim-majority societies, the relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and the correlation between the Shariʿa and state constitutions and statutory law/legal systems. Efforts to implement certain elements of classical Islamic law in a context that is no longer compatible with its basic assumptions have resulted in social and political instability, and, in some cases, violence. Drawing on classical Islamic theology and jurisprudence together with the Indonesian historical experience, K.H. Yahya Cholil Staquf and several other young scholars and activists of the Nahdlatul ‘Ulama (Indonesia’s and the world’s largest Muslim organization) have embarked on a project of assembling an alternative Islamic orthodoxy under the rubric of Humanitarian Islam. In this talk, Staquf will introduce this project. He will discuss the context that had led to the project’s development, its roadmap, and the challenges it faces.
K.H. Yahya Cholil Staquf serves as General Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council, the world’s largest Muslim organization with over 50 million members. Staquf was a member of Indonesia’s National Electoral Commission during the nation’s successful transition from authoritarian rule to democracy, and served as presidential spokesman to Indonesia’s fourth president Abdurrahman Wahid. He also serves on the executive board of the U.S.-Indonesia Council on Religion and Pluralism, and has played a key role in the establishment of the Vienna Observatory for Applied Research on Terrorism and Extremism. He has been described by the TIME magazine as being “among Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders.”
Moderated by Ismail Fajrie Alatas, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, NYU.